Rangers kick off second half against the Blue Jackets; Staal and Fast expected to play

Bobby Bevilacqua


Photo courtesy of Getty Images.

  • New York Rangers (31-17-1, 63 PTS) vs. Columbus Blue Jackets (32-12-4, 68 PTS)
  • The Rangers were shutout in their last game against the Flyers. New York played an outstanding game despite not getting any goals, and they had the majority of the chances and had the two points stolen away by Steve Mason, who made 34 saves. There’s no such thing as a “feel good” loss, but this is about as close as you can get to one of them.
  • The Blue Jackets lost their last game against the Nashville Predators, 4-3, and have lost two straight games. Columbus had an incredible 16 game win streak earlier in the season, and since that was snapped, they’ve been about a .500 team. However, they still have the second most points in the league and have played well in their recent losses.


  • This is the third of five meetings between the Rangers and the Blue Jackets and the first of two at Madison Square Garden. The Rangers, playing their 50th game tonight, won the last meeting on Jan. 7, erasing a three goal deficit and getting a four point night from Michael Grabner, including a hat trick. The teams have split the first two games of the series so far.
  • The Rangers have won eight of the last nine games against Columbus, dating back to Jan. 16, 2015, going 8-1-0 over that time span.
  • The Rangers sit just five points behind the Blue Jackets in the Metropolitan Division standings, so this game has important implications for playoff seeding.


  • Sergei Bobrovsky is the expected starter tonight. Bobrovsky has had a very successful season, staying healthy and posting a 28-9-2 record with a 2.10 GAA and a .929 save percentage. His 28 wins are the most in the league and, and he ranks fourth in save percentage and fifth in GAA.
  • Cam Atkinson is having a remarkable season, leading the team in goals (24) and points (46) through 48 games. He’s behind only Sidney Crosby for the league lead in goals and is tied for 11th in points. He has three goals in the last three games and has nine goals over the last calendar month, a span of 14 games. He has two points in the two games between the Rangers and Blue Jackets.
  • Nick Foligno had a disappointing season last year, his first as captain, seeing a 36 point dip in production and finishing the year with 37 points (12-25-37). However, he’s already passed last year’s point total in just 46 games, scoring 17 goals and 22 assists for 39 points. He’s scored three points (2-1-3) in the last three games.
  • Alexander Wennberg, 22, has seen his role steadily increase since joining the league, and now centers Brandon Saad and Nick Foligno on the top line. Wennberg has eight goals and 32 assists through 48 games, which matches his scoring output from last season.


  • Henrik Lundqvist is the likely starter for the Rangers tonight. After a lot of struggles, Lundqvist has played very well over the last four games, going 3-1-0 in the last four games, recording one shutout and allowing just six goals on 110 shots (.945 SV%). Hank is 21-13-1 with a 2.73 GAA and a .907 save percentage.
  • Marc Staal and Jesper Fast are expected to play tonight. Staal has missed the last nine games with concussion symptoms and Fast has missed the last four with an upper body injury. Antti Raanta is also expected to be available as a backup tonight. Kevin Hayes will not return yet.
  • Alain Vigneault signed a two year extension with the team this afternoon. Since he was named head coach, the Rangers rank third in the league and lead the Eastern Conference in wins (175). He leads all NYR coaches in points percentage (.632) with a minimum of 100 games.
  • Michael Grabner leads the Rangers with 21 goals, and has scored four goals and five points in the two games against Columbus. In his career, he has 11 points (6-5-11) in 11 games against the Jackets.
  • Derek Stepan has been one of the most consistent scorers on the team, and sits behind just Mats Zuccarello for the team lead in points. Stepan has four points (2-2-4) in the last five games and has recorded a point in eight of the last 10 game against the Blue Jackets, with six goals and seven assists over that span.
  • Miller has tallied a point on the game-winning goal in each game of the Rangers three game winning streak from Jan. 19 – Jan. 23, scoring the game-winning goal in two of those games. He’s been exceptional as of late, tallying a point in 10 of the last 12 games (7 G, 6 A), and a goal in four of the last seven games. He’s tied for the team lead in games with a goal (14) and games with a point (27). He has 35 points (16-19-35) this season.

The Rangers and the Blue Jackets will faceoff at Madison Square Garden at 7 p.m. The game will be broadcasted on MSG 2.


Chris Kreider-Derek Stepan-Mats Zuccarello

Rick Nash-Mika Zibanejad-Pavel Buchnevich

Matt Puempel-JT Miller-Michael Grabner

Jimmy Vesey-Brandon Pirri-Jesper Fast

Ryan McDonagh-Dan Girardi

Marc Staal-Nick Holden

Brady Skjei-Kevin Klein

Henrik Lundqvist

Posted on January 31, 2017, in Game Previews and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

  1. Girardi playing top line minutes scares me but AV’s doesn’t exactly have too many options to work with, especially when you look at the year Klein is having. I really hope Staal can come back playing the way he’s played so far this season. That sounds strange after the way last season went for him but he’s looked pretty good playing with Holden this year. I keep wondering if they’re gonna make a move on D this year cause I really can’t see this group going too far in the playoffs. I would rather they don’t break up the young group of forwards and just wait till next season if they have to. I think there’s too much to fix on this D right now.


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